Candida is a type of yeast that is a common cause of fungal infections. It naturally resides in the human gut to help with digestion and nutrient absorption. So, it is normal to find it inside of you. Under normal circumstances, Candida is harmless. However, it is known to be opportunistic and will invade, overgrow, and infect when you experience a compromised immune system. When your gastrointestinal tract experiences a Candida overgrowth, besides causing infections, it can aggravate certain conditions such as colitis or Crohn’s disease.
By following a Candida diet, you can re-establish balance in your gut health and find relief from Candida symptoms. This article will give you a look into Candida and the diet that is said to get it under control.
How does Candida overgrow?
Your gut is also full of healthy bacteria that help to keep Candida levels where they should be. Sometimes certain factors come into play that encourages Candida to grow out of control. The major factor that causes gut imbalance is a diet that is full of sugars, processed food, and junk food. Other factors include:
- An illness that compromises your immune system
- General microbial imbalance
- Some types of birth control pills
- Consuming too many fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, bread, buttermilk
- Medications that kill off helpful bacteria
Research shows that gut health is connected to many bodily functions such as your heart health and digestive health. A Candida infection can affect many different areas in your body, including nails, mouth, vagina, and others. Here are some typical symptoms that may point to a Candida infection.
- Infections in your nails and foot fungal infections.
- Experiencing a high level of fatigue
- You feel bloated often and may experience constipation, gas, or diarrhea.
- Indigestion and nausea
- Mood swings
- Mental health issues like depression or anxiety
- Skin problems such as eczema
- Yeast infections and urinary tract infections
What is the Candida diet?
Candida treatment is insufficiently studied, but a diet and lifestyle change shows promise as a successful treatment plan. The Candida diet is extremely strict and encourages low-sugar and anti-inflammatory food options. It supports balanced gut health and eliminates the Candida’s food source to stop it from growing. To effectively treat an overgrowth three things need to happen: you need to stop the yeast from continuing to grow, allow good bacteria to build their numbers back up, and heal any damage caused by the overgrowth so that your body can help keep Candida out of your bloodstream.
Why follow this diet?
A Candida diet will help you reduce the numbers of bad bacteria allowing good bacteria to regain its strength in numbers. It will also help health your gut and get it back in balance. In the article “8 Signs You Have A Candida Infection”, Dr. Todd Watts explains that sugar feeds Candida, so it should be cut out from your diet. However, it may not be as easy to remove sugar from your diet as you may think, as many people in the Western world eat a staggering amount of sugar every year. Since sugar is a Candida’s primary food source, removing foods like high-sugar fruits and desserts Will slow its growth to allow your body and the good bacteria in your gut to gain the upper hand.
When you think of how much of your diet is made up of sugars and complex carbs, it becomes apparent that we have been teetering on the edge of allowing Candida to take over all along.
Step 1: The Cleanse
It is recommended that you do a cleanse to remove toxins from your body before beginning your new diet. A cleanse will also help transition your body into its new eating habits.
- Days 1-3: The first few days, you are to consume an all liquid diet that consists of water, lemon water, and broth. Be aware that some experience side effects from a detox. Fatigue, headaches, mood swings, and insomnia are all normal during this time. If symptoms are too intense you can shorten the duration of the initial days.
- Days 4-7: In addition to your liquids, steamed veggies and a very small portion of protein can be eaten. Once the week is over, move on to step 2.
Step 2: The Diet
To get overgrowth in control you need to eliminate its food source. These foods should be removed from your diet.
- Sugar, artificial sweeteners, candy, and sugary desserts- Feeds the fungus
- Fruits that contain high amounts of sugar
- Deli Meats
- Refined oils and condiments
- Lactose- may increase acid levels in your mouth
- Gluten- thought to destroy the lining of your intestines, allowing Candida to pass through
Add healthier food options to your diet to get your gut back in balance. These foods are encouraged while you are utilizing the Candida diet:
- Fruits with a lower sugar content like citrus
- Starch-free vegetables like cruciferous choices
- Grains without gluten- quinoa, millet, sorghum, amaranth
- Good quality chicken, eggs, and turkey for protein
- Wild salmon- full of omega-3
- Ginger and clove- natural anti-fungal remedies
- Lactose-free dairy
- No-sugar sweeteners
- Herbal teas
Adding probiotics and other supplements
Making lifestyle changes and improving your diet is hands-down the best course of action to take if you are self-treating. There are medications your doctor can prescribe if needed and over-the-counter probiotics and prebiotics that can help. Studies done on gut health suggest that probiotics are very important in keeping your microbiome balanced. Their ability to help control inflammation makes them ideal for conditions like colitis and other bowel issues.
It is also suggested that you add plenty of fiber to your diet in order to flush out impurities in your digestive tract. Maintaining regularity restricts the time Candida yeast is able to colonize in your intestines and continue to cause damage. Fiber supplements are a prebiotic and will help probiotics do their job efficiently.
It’s safe to say that when your gut health is out of balance it can cause problems in virtually every part of your body. The Candida diet is meant to mend gut health, lessen inflammation, and strengthen your immune system. Though more research is needed in order to establish its effectiveness, we can all agree healthy dietary changes will make you feel better regardless. By improving your digestive health, and reinstating balance between the good bacteria and yeast inside, you can enjoy relief from the symptoms associated with Candida.